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Latest From the Blog

Live Radio Broadcast KPOO Radio San Francisco July 24 2015

I will be doing an extended interview with Francesca D’Alessio on KPOO-FM 89.5 Radio San Francisco at 9:00 PM CDT on Friday, July 24, 2105, 7:00PM Pacific. You can listen to it live by clicking this link — on Friday, July 24th at 9pm Central, that is

My opinion (guitar improv)

I certainly don’t intend to get anyone riled up but I want to vent on a topic I have given a lot of thought to.

In the realm of jazz guitar (and almost especially in the realm of gypsy jazz) it seems that some soloists think that simply stitching a series of well-executed prepared licks together constitutes a good “improvised” solo.  I admit that I have been guilty of this approach myself but I never felt fulfilled by it.

Everyone relies on licks and devices to some extent but as we mature as improvising musicians I think it is a natural evolution to want to get closer to creating music in the moment. When you listen to Wes, Joe Pass, Pat Metheny, Bireli Lagrene, Chet Baker, Paul Desmond, Miles Davis and Jim Hall you can sense and hear that they are creating “in the moment” a good deal of the time. Yes, they fall back on their grab bag of stuff once in a while but, for the most part, they are forging on into new territory.

It may be hard for people who don’t spend their whole life thinking about these things to distinguish between the two approaches. I only know where I want to go and if I have to sacrifice a little “dazzle” to get to a better musical moment I will not hesitate to chose the more “in the moment” path.

I welcome comments.

 

Jim Hall (1930-2013)

I have been aware of Jim Hall for many years. Anyone interested in jazz guitar knows about Jim Hall. He was a very melodic, tasteful and measured player

However, when I was in my late teens my taste ran toward players like Django and Pat Martino. Still, I always liked Jim Hall and knew that someday, with some maturity, I would totally come around about him.

That day has come. Only recently I have become aware of the great period of creativity he experienced throughout his sixties and seventies. He made many recordings during that period and wrote a lot of music as well. His duet recording with Pat Metheny is probably the best known but he also interfaced with a lot of musicians from later generations than his own.

I especially like the album called Dialogues where he is teamed with Bill Frisell, Joe Lovano, Mike Stern, Tom Harrell and Gil Goldstein. Great playing and great tunes.

Jim was 64 when he made this recording and the way he continued to grow and explore throughout his seventh and eighth decade is something to behold. For me he is kind of like the Clark Kent of jazz guitar. He seems mild-mannered on the surface but something “super” was always cooking inside of him.

Wes Montgomery

Since Wes Montgomery passed nearly 47 years ago (June 15,1968) there has been very little “new and unheard” material released. But there is a “new” Wes Montgomery recording released this month.

“In The Beginning” is now available on Resonance Records. It is a two CD set which is also available on 3 vinyl discs as well. When Buddy Montgomery (brother of Wes) passed a few years ago his wife unveiled several reels of live recordings of the Montgomery Brothers. The recordings were done at clubs in the Indianapolis area.

In addition there are several tracks from a Montgomery Brothers project recorded in 1955 for Columbia that was never released and essentially forgotten.

Wes sounds great on these recordings even though they are somewhat rough but the live and in the moment atmosphere only makes them more exciting in my estimation.

The package also comes with a 55 page booklet that contains excerpts from Buddy Montgomery’s autobiography and testimonials from several jazz writers and, believe it or not, Pete Townsend.

It is an impressive package and one that any fan of Wes should have.

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